Art sessions at Broad Street Ministry include the chance to make cards for loved ones Credit: Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

Billy Penn is one of 21 news organizations producing BROKE in Philly, a collaborative reporting project on economic justice. Read more at or follow at @BrokeInPhilly.

What would your life look like if you didn’t have to worry about money?

Most Philadelphians — and let’s face it, basically everyone everywhere— rarely allow ourselves to answer that question.

Today, the two of us will.

If we didn’t have to worry about money, we would not lay awake at night worrying about whether our spouses can pursue their chosen careers, crunching numbers in spreadsheets to make sure that the salary is sufficient to cover childcare, food, and monthly payments towards an astronomical mountain of student debt. If we didn’t have to worry about money, we wouldn’t be pegging a dream of having a second child to a bank account balance because of the high cost of fertility treatments..

Compared to some, though, we are both financially fortunate. We have structurally solid roofs over our heads and our kids receive high-quality daycare at a conveniently-located place of our choosing. But that’s exactly the point: the city’s ghastly 25.7 percent poverty rate does not even come close to encompassing the extent of the city’s economic insecurity problem. Depending on the measure of financial self-sustainability, between 48 and 62 percent of Philadelphians cannot make ends meet. And, even those of us who can, suffer the stress of economic uncertainty.

The need to reframe our city’s core challenge — and its potential solutions — prompted Philadelphia City Council to adopt a Resolution making January 2019 Economic Mobility Action Month. Nationally, the first month of the year is Poverty Awareness Month, but you know the problem is bigger than “poverty,” and we need more than “awareness.”

For the last eight months, Resolve Philadelphia, through Broke in Philly, our collaborative reporting project, has facilitated solutions-oriented reporting on the economic realities facing our community. While we’re continuing coverage throughout the year on poverty alleviation — a dominant focus in 2018 — we’re also making a concerted effort to include a better understanding of economic mobility. We want to explore what it would take for all of us to be in a place of mobility, of security, of choice, while recognizing that these words don’t mean the same thing for all of us.

In January, we’re sharing a new fact each day about economic mobility in our community — some of which may surprise you. Later this month, alongside allies like The Center for Returning Citizens, University of Pennsylvania, Frontline Dads, The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and others, we’ll facilitate discussions as we work together to better understand economic mobility and begin to paint a collective picture of what prosperity looks like in our community.

But Economic Mobility Action Month is just the beginning. We have more to do throughout 2019 — and we need your voices to do it.

First, please ask yourself that question at the top of this piece: What what your life look like if you didn’t have to worry about money? Would you and your partner fight less? Would your living situation look different? What about your health?

Now ask yourself: What information do you need to move towards that vision? What questions do you have that local news media can work to answer?

This outlet, and more than 20 others, is dedicated to doing community-responsive reporting and finding those answers for you. You can text us at (215) 774-3212
or fill out the contact form on Or, tweet or DM a video of your answers at @brokeinphilly.

YouTube video

In partnership with PhillyCAM, we’ve already started collecting thoughts, as you can see from the video above.

The PhillyCAM team will also be at the Philly Town Hall on Student Debt on Wednesday January 17th and at the North Philly Community Reinvestment Town Hall on Thursday, Jan. 18, with their cameras ready to amplify your stories and dreams for an economically mobile, just, and secure future for all of our neighbors.

We hope to hear from you